My college roommate called me Friday to see if we could connect in three weeks when he takes his daughter to Bloomington, Indiana. He was a hockey and baseball teammate of mine and a really good athlete. He still plays adult hockey on occasion, and pretty well, but I think that’s the extent of his activity.
I suggested maybe we could meet in Louisville because I’m thinking about going to ride the Ironman bike course before the race. He thought that sounded great, then casually added, “I could probably just do the bike with you.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this or something similar from people. “I don’t think I could do the swim, or run a marathon, but I could do the bike.”
I used to be nice, but now my stock answer is, “No you couldn’t.” And that was the exact response I gave my friend.
“I love you, buddy, but you can’t hang on that ride.”
“Oh, come on, man, I ride my bike sometimes.”
I have a semi-legitimate biking history, and over nearly two years of Ironman training, I’ve come to believe the bike may be the hardest of the three. Or certainly the most deceptive. Riding 25 miles or maybe even 50 is reasonable for someone who doesn’t bike a lot, but after that, and especially if you are really riding, it’s gonna crush you.
I have a lot of good friends who are in excellent bike shape and it still takes up to 7 hours to finish 112 miles. It’s just a grueling road and if anything goes wrong it can be miserable.
Frankly, if you’re not in shape, it hurts. Your ass hurts, your legs, your back, etc and your body screams to get off that hard saddle. You can only coast so much.
The good news is, I rode 77 hard-ass miles on Natchez Trace with my coach on Saturday. Even better news was, I felt good enough on Sunday to rollerblade 13 miles in the morning then run 9 later in the day. It was sweltering hot and both days were a great prep for Louisville.